A Doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous support to a mother before, during and just after childbirth. Studies have shown that when doulas are used, mothers are more likely to have shorter labors with fewer complications, are less likely to need pain medication or epidurals, and are more likely to breastfeed successfully.
Doulas do not perform clinical tasks such as blood pressure checks or vaginal exams, but they are an invaluable source of support and information for mothers and their families. A doula’s role is to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support during labor and delivery, as well as postpartum.
During labor, a doula can provide massage, help with positioning, offer words of encouragement and generally be a calming presence. After the baby is born, a doula can help with breastfeeding, give advice on newborn care or simply be a shoulder to cry on.
Research has shown that having a doula can make a big difference in the overall childbirth experience. Women who have doulas report higher levels of satisfaction with their births and feel more supported both emotionally and physically. If you’re considering hiring a doula, be sure to interview several to find one who is a good fit for you and your family.